Over the centuries, explorers hoped to find the fountain of
youth. Of course, they did not find what
they expected to find. However, perhaps
we have had the fountain of youth with us throughout history, but have not
appreciated it for what it is. Perhaps
the fountain of youth is simply water itself!
We all know or have some idea that we need to drink fluids
from time to time, but few people know or understand the damage the body
sustains when a person does not drink enough water.
The cells of the body are about 75 percent water; the brain
is about 85 percent water, while the bones contain less water. Many consider that water is just filler
material and that as long as they drink a little, things will function just
fine. However, nothing could be further
from the truth. When insufficient water
is taken in, the body suffers in numerous ways, and it alerts us to its
deficiency through a multitude of pains and diseases.
When a person does not drink sufficient water, there is a
shortage of water in the body for its various functions. This is known as dehydration. When this happens, the body embarks on a
strict water-rationing program. It
starts to produce more histamine, which regulates water distribution to the
various organs and parts of the body.
Those areas of the body not considered as essential for survival—such as
bones, joints, and skin—receive little water, whereas other areas that are
considered vital—such as the brain—still get a fair amount, albeit less than
necessary for full and proper function.
Many people think that any fluid will satisfy their need for
water. This is not true. Caffeine-containing beverages—coffee, tea,
colas, and other soda drinks—and alcoholic beverages—such as wine and beer—are
all diuretics. These substances cause
more water to be eliminated than is taken in.
If a person drinks a cup of coffee, for example, one and a half cups of
water will be excreted from the body. It
is the same with the other caffeine and alcohol-containing beverages. Thus, people can drink themselves into
dehydration, while thinking that they have fulfilled their need for water. Milk and juice should be considered foods and
are not a satisfactory replacement for water.
Only water will truly satisfy the body’s need for water.
At minimum, a person needs eight cups of water a day. However, the following is a more precise
formula for determining your individual water needs: Take your weight in
pounds; divide that number by two, and this is the
amount of water in ounces that you need every day. To find out how many cups that is, divide the
amount in ounces by eight, and you will get the number of cups that you
need. If you are exercising, sweating,
living in a hot climate, overweight, experiencing pain, sick or diseased, or
under stress of any kind, you may need to drink more water than that. A good indicator for determining if you are
drinking enough water is if your urine is clear or if it is very light in
color. The darker the urine, the more
dehydrated you are. When you drink the
amount of water that you need, you should not go on a salt-free or
salt-restricted diet. All that water
will flush any extra salt out of your body.
Also, you should drink your water between meals and not with your
meals. “The more liquid there is taken
into the stomach with the meals, the more difficult it is for the food to
digest; for the liquid must first be absorbed.”
Christian Temperance and Bible Hygiene, 51.
The following are a few of the health problems in which
dehydration is a major cause:
High Blood Pressure
When there is not enough water in the body, the volume of
blood decreases. To compensate for the
reduced amount of blood, the blood vessels have to reduce their interior size;
otherwise there would not be enough blood to fill all of the available area in
the circulatory system and gas pockets would form. Thus, the muscles that line the arteries
squeeze down so that the passageway for the blood is smaller. This tension in the arteries is then detected
as hypertension. Also, because there is
not enough water to go around, this extra pressure in the blood vessels is
needed in order to force water into certain vitally important cells so that
they do not get too dehydrated. Lastly,
the body starts to retain salt in an effort to keep more water in the body, for
water follows salt. The solution for
this is to drink sufficient water and to take a little salt, preferably sea
When the body is dehydrated, there is insufficient mucus
lining the interior of the stomach. This
mucus layer must be of a sufficient quantity to protect the stomach from the
acid that digests the food. When stomach
acid reaches the tissues under the mucus, pain is the result.
Water is also necessary to produce the digestive enzymes and
alkaline solution from the pancreas. When there is insufficient water to
produce adequate quantities of this solution, the stomach is not able to pass
the food into the intestines in a timely manner, and digestion is greatly
slowed. This can also result in putting
pressure at the top of the stomach and causing heartburn. Constipation will result when there is a
shortage of water, and the body is trying to recapture water from the waste in
the colon. The solution for all of these
problems is to drink one to two cups of water 30 minutes before each meal, and
then wait at least one hour after eating before drinking more water.
Many times fatigue is merely due to dehydration. There are little mechanisms in cell walls
that operate like the hydroelectric generators in a dam producing
electricity. Much energy can be produced
from these “cellular hydroelectric pumps.”
However, in order for this to happen, there must be sufficient “free”
water in the body. In other words, this
operation requires water that is not engaged in any other activity. But in dehydration, all of the water is being
put to use in other vital areas, and the person is not able to benefit from
this source of energy. This source of
energy is as important as food energy.
To fight fatigue, drink your individual requirement of water.
Many other health problems are also caused or made worse by
not drinking enough water. These include
asthma, allergies, arthritis, edema, obesity, headaches, migraines, depression,
pain of all kinds, autoimmune diseases, and more. Hopefully, you will decide to start drinking
more water, and eliminate the diuretic beverages from your lifestyle. Your health will greatly improve just by
The source of your water should be clean and
uncontaminated. In today’s environment,
it makes sense to use bottled water or filtered water. Filtration removes the chlorine from the
water and enhances the water’s taste, helping you to enjoy it and to drink the
amount you should.
Diane Herbert is a
naturopath and lifestyle consultant. She
received training from the NAD Lifestyle Consultant program, Thomas Edison State College, Clayton College of Natural Healing,
and Bastyr University. Diane teaches health classes at the Gilead
Institute located in Norcross, Georgia, gives health presentations, and
contributes to the Institute’s literature and health flyer series. If you would like more information on water
or other health topics, you may contact her at: The Gilead Institute of America, 6000 Live Oak
Parkway, Suite 114, Norcross, Georgia 30093; telephone: (770) 270-1087; Website: www.gileadinstitute.org.